Working with Kim Weston…

My friend, Kathy, had mentioned that she really enjoyed a workshop she took, How to See + Make Photographs, led by Kim Weston at the Kehler Liddell Gallery in Westville, CT. After reading about Kim’s work, I was thrilled to discover that she planned another, How to See + Make Photographs II, in conjunction with the ArtEcon Initiative (www.ArtEconInitiative.org). I signed up in April knowing that there would be a gap over the summer as I geared up for my portfolio development class at Southern Connecticut State University.

Years ago, I was a florist in New Haven, CT, and based my designs on the study of Ikebana or Kado – the flower path. My approach was intentionally minimalist so folks could appreciate the individuality & beauty of each blossom. A client gave me a book of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photos of flowers…and I promised myself to put together a body of work that inspired me as much as those photos. In 2001, closed the shop and went back to school to study photography and graphic design. I have been photographing flowers in earnest for over ten years. Magic occurs for me when using a macro lens & standing very close to capture a tiny detail. Equally “magical” is the ability to change something as small as a single pixel and not deal with the unpleasant odors & chemicals of the darkroom. Perhaps, most magical, is the chance to get in so close & capture something not obvious to the human eye. Maybe even crop even closer so as to wonder about what the final result describes. I totally love flowers…they make me happy…some more than others. I love to consider them as individuals and love to explore their colors, centers, forms and lines…and am thrilled that much of my work reflects this. Just take a quick glance upwards at the mosaic header. And, I feel that my journey has just started!

Although I went in many directions for school and work, kind, positive & supportive people helped me to stay on track and also encouraged me to see & create with a wider perspective. It’s nice to come back again to this promise made in 1989 while at the same time, Kim’s workshops help me move forward at a time when I hoped to kickstart my creative energies for the fall semester.

In May, Kim announced another workshop, Through the Camera Lens to the Photographic Print. It was enjoyable to push forward knowing that by the fall there would be some new work. To be honest, I tried some things for the sake of trying and although the images were interesting and technically proficient I really did not enjoy some of the work and realized that the person I needed to please was me!

So this time, I tried very selective focus, high key backlighting and intentional defocus…all new for me.  This allowed me to photograph deliberately arranged, fairly usual botanical subjects in a new way and to concentrate on the abstract components of light and shadow and still make images that please me.

 

It’’s hard to pin down my favorite part of Kim’s workshops: her vision for growth, humor, warmth, or scholarship. Sometimes, after she showed us the work of several artists, I was inspired to learn more for days and really look forward to the next meeting.

Another favorite moment for me was being asked to present the work of a photographer that inspired me. I selected Nick Brandt  and spent hours researching his work and philosophy. Folks at the workshop seemed comfortable and engaged and I was able to reinforce my belief that an artist should build a vision that suits them, justify it if necessary and inspire others to do the same.

Over the years, in fact, since the early 1970’s, I have taken a number of university level photography courses, specialized workshops and even private instruction to learn and grow as a photographer. So thanks again…Kim for helping to make it easier to push forward!!!

cinemagraphs | fun & creative

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It’s important to push past your comfort zone and since I have always loved photographing flowers along with the rest of the word, it has been a challenge to be considered truly creative by those who are. Hopefully, this cinemagraph is a start. The cinemagraph form is something I actually worked with several years ago in an Advanced Digital Photography at Southern Connecticut State University.

The first challenge is to have a collection of images and video suitable for the technique. Most of my flower photographs are hand held, extreme close ups with radical cropping, hi contrast lighting, and sharp focus which typically results in a dark background.

For the cinemagraph to work, it was important to have a high key background and framing to show the entire blossom…so this would be a 180 in terms of my photographic style. And then, this idea was filed away along with the desire to do some hi key work.

Last year, working with a client who needed dozens of individual, isolated product shots was great practice for the future.

Fast forward to spring 2019: I am taking a fantastic workshop led by Kim Weston for the ArtEcon Initiative (www.ArtEconInitiative.org). We meet each week at the Kehler Liddell Gallery,  a retail art gallery collectively operated by member artists, in Westville, CT.

I picked up an interesting dendrobium orchid specimen at White Plains Orchids a few weeks ago and was able to make an image which I thought would be a simple print

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for the final presentation at Kim’s workshop. Pushing past some of my recent abstract work, I realized this orchid image was a perfect element for a cinemagraph. I did a bit more research and found that cinemagraphs have only gained in popularity since my original exploration in 2016. This just happened on Friday, May 3rd so I had to dig out some video footage for the composite. I am pretty sure (optimistic)  that no one is capturing images of water falls and then animating flowers to float and dance so I was comfortable repurposing the flowing water.

Kim brings a scholarly and established approach to the conversation about photography. She has been stressing the importance of originality.

Taking this a step further, I envision a gallery installation of vertically flowing water with a floral animation projection which could be influenced by locale/environment. Or perhaps, a moving seascape with animated botanical elements. So this will be continued.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

typography | spring 2019 SCSU

Gill Sans Poster Design

Unfortunately, I have had mixed feelings about Eric Gill and Gill Sans. It is impossible to forget that he may have sexually abused his daughters.  Art Historians & Curators debate the need to separate the art from the artist. I find it difficult to do this. Philosophically, this assignment became very challenging.

Participating in an effective critique is an important skill. Our professor, Peggy Bloomer, provided great guidelines at the start of the semester – the CRAP model!

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Paula Scher said “Make it Bigger” and this makes sense when considering contrast.

Maybe someone will notice the “ill”  in the counter of the gigantic, gorgeous G.  Of course, this is a humorous way to include repetition.

I was delighted to discover that the G is not centered on it’s vertical axis and considered Gill’s subtle variances of internal alignment when placing supporting type.

The viewer’s eye should stay on this poster because the few elements are close to each other and gain importance and relevance by their proximity.

A color guru might notice the choice of “light acid green” for the background and connect the color to vomit or bile.  Adding color makes this design stronger – thanks to Peggy.

It was a conscious choice not to add extraneous design elements like background type texture.  This design is bold and confident.

 

Exactly what is a LOGO?

Logo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

logo (abbreviation of logotype,[4] from Greekλόγος logos “word” and τύπος typos “imprint”) is a graphic mark, emblem, or symbol used to aid and promote public identification and recognition. It may be of an abstract or figurative design or include the text of the name it represents as in a wordmark.

 

And, below are a few logos which I designed for clients who had very specific ideas about what they envisioned:

MGFlogoSealWEB copyMatty just received his 100th 5 star review from YELP – go team!!!

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Mike’s patent approval preceded his vision for this logo!!!

It’s not that hard to figure out which of the above designs are a tad more complex; yet, both convey the exact message intended.

Sometimes, it’s complicated…

Jon & Michele Valee asked me to design packaging for their award-winning rum cakes. We worked really hard to get the final containers to reflect their brand vision…it’s pretty cool how the small, medium & large cakes stack together to mimic the form of a lighthouse. The design also won an award!

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And, when an upscale department store chain in Bermuda wanted to feature their cakes for tourist gifts, they asked me to infuse the design with an island vibe, making sure the sand was “pink.” This design is fairly complicated. The final packages fold up just like the image above.BermudaCakes

 

Corporate design is always about respect…

For the past few years,  I have been concentrating on Marketing & Design for several clients in the food service industry.

By providing comprehensive marketing support across all channels for Lighthouse Rum Cakes and Gelato Giulianaas well as other clients, I have developed a broad range of experience and skills, not limited to award-winning graphic design and photography.

These efforts are supported by continued study in Business Administration and front/back end marketing communications protocols. My business and design philosophy provides unconditional support and availability.

I have also developed marketing communications for educational & clients in the retail and service industries. It is particularly gratifying to have won several design and photography awards.

Below are several more examples of my work in various sectors:

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Because  I manage social media for several clients, personally, I never, ever post, comment or share anything controversial which could potentially conflict with my client’s philosophy. After careful deliberation, I decided that most visitors to this post would be here to see my range and ability to take risks for a client w/their permission. So here u have it – the real designer inside takes a stand.

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I was asked to use type only for this design to illustrate Open Type and it is, perhaps, my all-time favorite piece.
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This university brochure design is very stylized – yet quite simple with references to grids & vectors.

Photographic Vision & Style

One always hears about composition and the rule of thirds. It’s all about composition, focus & lighting for photographers & designers. And, I decided to do an exercise and put a rule of thirds grid over the work of a few famous artists. Sure enough – they followed the rule of thirds. 

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The work of Lewis Hine are inspiring – his photo, above, speaks thousands of words, follows the rule of thirds, and reminds me to never be satisfied & to keep trying.

Georges de La Tour also inspires me – his painting, below, captures light and emotion in a style which instinctively informs mine.

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Keeping them in mind along with the rule and it works well for me!

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And, if you want to see more of our work: www.awesomephotos.co

adding light…awesome

The macro R1C1 flash set up, part of the Nikon Creative Lighting System, provides the perfect portable solution to make detailed macro photos shine. This macro lighting unit is a great tool for precise food & botanical photography. The twin flash heads dramatically light culinary ingredients and complex floral details.

As a professional photographer, one must be very concerned about light. The variable are numerous and complex. It’s wonderful to be able to develop a “lighting style” that is appealing and recognizable.

I prefer photos to be in sharp focus which requires a small f stop – f11 or higher. This small opening, combined with the length of the lens and subject to camera distance dramatically reduces the available light so it makes sense for me to add light – not bump up the iso too high. These strobes are great – literally small light boxes, attached to a ring which sits at the end of the lens. The lighting style is very contoured.  A wireless transmitter allows me to adjust the individual output.

4803_R1C1-Wireless-Close-Up-Speedlight-System_frontSome more info about the unit from the Nikon site:

http://www.nikonusa.com/en/nikon-products/product/flashes/r1c1-wireless-close-up-speedlight-system.html

People are typically curious abut this unit which adds a bit of substance to my camera’s footprint. I really enjoy taking the time to explain how this system works!!! From what I understand, the unit was originally developed for dental photography. I always shoot with my 105mm Nikon micro. If, for example, I am using the 85mm Nikon portrait lens, the R1C1 does not provide enough light. We are talking close.

Currently there is a Chihuly exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens. Most of the photos I’ve noticed on NYBG’s FLICKR Group provide a broader point of view.  The photos above are fragraments of a blade of green glass from the Chihuly show.

A while back  I read a very interesting blog post from the New York Botanical Gardens. The author talked about a moss/fern spore that was used to make flash powder for view cameras in “the days of old.” Such an amazing connection between plants and photography.

And to see more of our work, visit: www.awesomephotos.co